The Age of Reason Paperback – May 9 2011
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About the Author
English-born Thomas Paine left behind hearth and home for adventures on the high seas at nineteen. Upon returning to shore, he became a tax officer, and it was this job that inspired him to write The Case of the Officers of Excise in 1772. Paine then immigrated to Philadelphia, and in 1776 he published Common Sense, a defense of American independence from England. After returning to Europe, Paine wrote his famous Rights of Man as a response to criticism of the French Revolution. He was subsequently labeled as an outlaw, leading him to flee to France where he joined the National Convention. However, in 1793 Paine was imprisoned, and during this time he wrote the first part of The Age of Reason, an anti-church text which would go on to be his most famous work. After his release, Paine returned to America where he passed away in 1809.
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Top Customer Reviews
I have read many books from various skeptical authors like Ingersoll, Doherty, Acharya S, Twain, and Barker. I always avoided Paine because I thought 1700's literature might be a little dry and difficult to read. I was also getting to the point where I wasn't really expecting to get any new insight or critique of christianity. I WAS WRONG. Even if you have lots of good skeptic books, buy this one for the following 3 reasons.
1) Thomas Paine is a great writer! He is witty, humorous, and insightful. I only raised my eyebrow one or two times because of the language. (Shew = Shown btw)
2)Thomas Paine did not have the benefit of carbon dating, and a lot of the biblical documentation that skeptics take for granted today. He critiques the bible using the bible itself. His critiquing of biblical history and authorship book by book is eye candy to any skeptic. For example:
[If Moses wrote the pentatauch in third person then isn't] "Moses ridiculous and absurd: for example, Num 12:3 'now the man moses was very meek. Above all the men which were on the face of the earth' If Moses said this of himself then instead of being the meekest of men, he was one of the most vain and arragant coxcombs...If he was the author, the author is without credit, because to boast of meekness is the reverse of meekness, and is a lie in sediment."
Paine also uses clever internal dating techniques to show these documents were not written when they were supposed. How could Moses have known about the city of Dan (Gen 14) when its name wasn't changed (from Laish) until 331 years after his death (Judges 18). These little inconsistancies fill the second part of his book.Read more ›
The problem is that Paine's work depends largely on two basic assumptions, neither of which applies today. First, most of his criticisms of Judeo-Christianity are aimed at Biblical literalism. For instance: Matthew and Luke disagee about Jesus' ancestors; therefore the Bible is not divinely inspired. But many Christians today acknowledge some Biblical imperfections, and say that the underlying message is what's important. So errors of chronology and inconsistencies would not disprove the Christian religion. In fact, many more liberal Biblical scholars have devoted themselves to finding and explaining Biblical imperfections.
I say this not because I disagree with Paine that Judaism and Christianity are false, but only because his critique is insufficient to deal with religion as it is practiced today. This book is sure to baffle any fundamentalist, though.
The second problem is Paine's assumption that deism is the "true" religion. He bases this on the order of the world and universe, and because conditions on Earth are so amenable to man that a higher power seems likely. Paine was writing before Darwin's theory of evolution, however, which would have provided an alternate explanation for this. And explorations into black holes and the like have shown us that the universe is much more chaotic than we once thought.Read more ›
Paine published the book in two parts: the first he hurriedly finished in January 1794 when he realized he would be arrested during the French Revolution (passages were in fact written from the Luxembourg Palace in Paris, where he was imprisoned). The second part was written the following year, and he responds to the critics of the first part with a no-holds-barred attack on the veracity of the Bible.
Paine presents his basic belief that "it is only in the creation that all our ideas and conceptions of a word of God can unite," and later in the book he says that "the creation is the bible of the deist." To Paine, the Bible is the word of man, not the Word of God, and he confronts many of the literalist beliefs proffered by the clergy and worshippers in his day. Many of his arguments, once shocking and blasphemous, are now taken for granted.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Excellent book for those who want to question or need to question the whole religious fiasco.Published 14 months ago by Cec
The Science is a bit dated but what do you expect of a contemporary of George Washington? His points are clear and concise and he goes into great length to defend his position... Read morePublished on March 17 2014 by Patrick Muxlow
As a Deist myself, I would recomend this book to anyone who is interested in Deism. Paine uses this book to point out the problems with not only the Christian religion, but also... Read morePublished on Jan. 15 2004 by Ryan M. OShea
This is a book which was written in 1795 but surprisingly enough is as clear and easy to read as books written today. Read morePublished on Aug. 3 2003 by Tom Munro
The Age of Reason is a brilliant defense of freethought and freedom of religious belief. Paine is NOT an atheist as claimed by fanatical believers. Read morePublished on May 8 2003 by G. F Gori
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